The other day, it was a topic of discussion between me and a friend of mine, Bob, W6CYX why JS Bach had composed of H moll Mass even though he was a faithful Lutherian protestant. It has been a question to me for a long time. Bob will attend a Bach festival in Carmel this summer. So I have given him this question.
He thought Catholic was an orthodox in its meaning. Bach might compose it in the style of Catholic in order to have his work obtain the eternal meaning. Catholic church and its culture have lived long enough. Any music in its style might live long as well. That was his idea. I was not convinced by this because belief in Christianity was so important for Bach and I could hardly believe he has made a kind of compromise to have his work live longer utelizing the style of Catholic music.
I would rather believe that it was after the Thirty Years war in Germany and there were lieges who believed in Protestant or in Catholic. Bach must served either liege at different times. In his real life, he might have to compromise between these two parties. The H moll Mass could be a product of such a compromise in real life, I thought.
Lately, when I searched about this question, I knew this religious work could be composed late in his life. At that time, Bach has given up promotion of his career etc but wanted to compile his knowledge and experience in his composition mainly by counterpoint in the last years of his life. He hoped, they say, to have his works live long in the history. It was quite possible that he took the catholic style for that purpose. This explanation is a little bit different from what Bob had thought about it in its nuance. But I must admit he was close to this explanation.
Yesterday, I have been to Chiba driving almost 3 hours each way. I was invited to play the cello part of the famous Doppel Concerto for two violines by JS Bach there. It was a big fun to play it. Each note in his works could never be ignored. Very tough to play it. But while playing the cello part, I realized what a structure it was composed of. It was a real fun for me as well. We will play this piece at a small concert of a friend's violine class recital. The counterpoint technique had been regarded an old fashioned music those days of Bach. But he has composed, with its technique and style of counterpoint, these musics of eternal value. It is really a surprise to me.